Guest Blog Post by Santiago Halty, Founder of SENDA ATHLETICS, Berkeley, CA

How it all got started

Soccer is king in Argentina, where I grew up. As a kid,  there wasn’t a time when I didn’t want to play. But soccer, for me, was more than a game.  It was a way to spend time with friends, a path to self-confidence, and a way to learn discipline at school.  After graduating from high school in Buenos Aires, I moved to San Diego, California, to attend college. It was there that I became increasingly interested in Fair Trade, and where the foundation for Senda’s vision grew.

After graduating from college in 2009, the pieces came together for Senda’s vision to make quality Fair Trade soccer equipment, while giving back to the community, and the company was created in Berkeley, California. I named the company Senda, which means “path” in Spanish,  and  chose that name because I see soccer as a “path” to change peoples’ lives.

Fairness is a Game changer

Fair Trade provides people  with an opportunity to make a positive impact in the lives of those who make their soccer equipment, as it guarantees fair wages, safe working conditions, and no child labor.

Further, workers are paid a Fair Trade Premium – additional funds to invest in social projects. The use of these additional funds is decided democratically by the workers and ball stitchers themselves, according to their own needs. Some examples of projects carried out in Pakistan include water purification, health care insurance and the creation of a micro credit fund, which is used to set up small businesses.

Competing in the Soccer Market: Quality and Ethical Products

At Senda, we are convinced that workers who receive fair wages, take pride in their work, and use only quality materialsend up producing a better product. It is by combining all of these that we offer a unique product: high-quality, Fair Trade soccer balls. Ethics and quality are factors that reinforce each other at Senda, and allow us to provide a unique product and experience. We have found a way to provide a high quality ball, while not taking advantage of the workers making this equipment.

Accomplishments  & Looking at the Future

It’s been a fantastic experience to introduce the concept of Fair Trade in the soccer world to thousands of players, coaches and parents, and see the enthusiasm they show for what we are doing. Our balls are being used throughout the US at all levels: from AYSO teams, to colleges,  high schools, and very competitive  leagues. Many youth coaches and parents are using the balls to teach their players to think beyond themselves, and understand the impact their purchases have on the rest of the world.

Companies like Google and Clif Bar have also gotten on board, designing customized Senda balls to create a unique branded product while improving communities across the globe.

I will be going to Pakistan in May of 2012, to meet first hand the ball stitchers and workers whose lives we are working to change. It will be fantastic to share more stories with our customers, and tell them about the big impact they are making on the lives of those who make their soccer equipment.

At Senda, we believe that those who allow us to enjoy the Beautiful Game of soccer  should be able to make a good living, and improve their lives. Our bet is that most coaches and players believe the same, that they will love the performance of our products, and will feel proud to know they are doing their part in changing the world, through soccer.

We hope you will join us too!

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